The national housing charity, Threshold has said that it is too early to determine if a decrease in Dublin rents and a moderation in rent increases nationally will result in an overall decrease over time.
It was responding to the latest figures from the Residential Tenancies Board, which show that rents in Dublin decreased by 1.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2017, with a 0.1 per cent increase on national rent levels. The four Dublin local authority areas are among 19 Rent Pressure Zones across the country.
Commenting, chief executive of Threshold, John-Mark McCafferty said: “While a decrease in private sector rents in Dublin is to be welcomed, it is a decrease from a very high base and it’s too early to say if this will result in an overall decrease over time. We will have to monitor the RPZs closely over the next year to see their impact.
“Even if private rent levels are moderating, supply is at an all-time low and we know from people contacting our Tenancy Protection Service that tenancy terminations and rent reviews are of concern to renters. So far this year, such queries represent the highest volume of calls to our advice line and increasing numbers of tenants are being served with notices of termination, with rent reviews and terminations becoming increasingly intertwined.
He added: “We have identified a growing trend of tenants who have to choose between paying an illegal rent hike or possible eviction and homelessness. In this competitive market with limited supply, tenants are hesitant to challenge rent increases at the Residential Tenancies Board for fear of a relationship breakdown with the landlord.
“We are also increasingly seeing that some landlords are manipulating the ‘substantial renovations’ exemption in the legislation. In Dublin, a landlord notified our clients that the property would undergo substantial renovations – yet the repairs amounted to minor maintenance and insulation improvements. The landlord demanded a rent increase from €1,640 to €3,200 – essentially double. In the current market, some landlords select tenants who not only can afford the rent but are willing to pay above and beyond the caps imposed in Rent Pressure Zone areas.”
He said: “The Government needs to ensure that supports such as HAP and rent supplement limits are kept up-to-date with market rents. For tenants, particularly those in receipt of rent supplement facing a rent increase or whose tenancy is at risk, support is available through our Tenancy Protection Service National Helpline 1800 454 454.
“We are also concerned for tenants outside of the RPZs for whom there is little protection and we would like to see rent certainty measures introduced nationally.”
Threshold wishes to acknowledge funding received from the Scheme to Support National Organisations 2016-2019 and the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government.